Saturday, May 9, 2015

Week 18 - Weekly Art Challenge - Blended Photos

These weeks seem to be going by quickly with having our daughter, her boyfriend, and our granddaughter living with us!  I'd rather hold Lydia and care for her than do much of anything else!! She's so adorable, tiny, and a good baby. Also, I'm the taxi to take her to all her doctor appointments of which she has several due to the congenital heart defect. Making time for art can be daunting sometimes!

This week, I played on my tablet some more blending photos with the Pixlr Express app that I've mentioned in previous posts.

Floral Garden Sunset. I blended a floral garden ZIA that I created (see post dated Mar 12, 2015) with a sunset photo I had taken a year ago. This is the "difference" blending. I added some doodle stickers to complete the photo. I like how the garden color changed when blended with the sunset.
Floral Garden Sunset #2. This is the same floral garden ZIA and sunset as in the first photo. This time I "added" the two photos. This blending created a whole different look. The mauves, purples and blues of the sunset were kept. I added an bubble overlay which created an interesting texture.
Floral Chickens. I blended a photo of two of our Americauna chickens with a flower photo
I took in California last year. I like how the color of the flowers affected the chickens coloring!  

I'm still learning much about blending photos in the Pixlr Express app. I've made some blended photos that I did not save as they look terrible, but it's fun to experiment and find what I like and don't like. It's helping with me understand composition and design better, too.

Keep creating!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Blue Twig Studio - April Product Review and Projects

This month, I received a package of Twinkling H2Os by Luminarte for review for Blue Twig Studio.  I had heard a lot of great comments about these from friends the last few months and had been wanting to try them, but couldn't justify buying yet another type of paint. Therefore, I was very excited when I received these for my April product review!!

Twinkling H2Os are highly pigmented, light fast, lusciously luminescent mica-infused watercolors. The H2Os are non-toxic and archival safe. The amount of water used determines if the color is opaque, translucent or transparent. This set contained 12 jars of H2Os, along with a free spritz bottle. The colors in my set included: poppy, rose gold, persimmon, mango mamba, mustard green, autumn butternut, black cherry, plum crazy, blue zircon, sweet alfalfa, cedar wood, and pearl red.
     (Note: my spritz bottle arrived with a crack starting at the spritzer and running a third of the way around the spritz head. Needless to say, it didn't work very well as a spritzer, but was still able to use it as clean water. I could spritz, if I didn't mind water spraying )
Twinkling H2Os by Luminarte
Open jars of Twinkling H2Os. Colors listed on cap to right of paint jar.
Color chart for Twinkling H2Os. 
The watercolor comes as a solid hard-pan cake. When you open the desired jars, the colors can be "woke up" by spraying the surface of the paint cakes. Directions state: after allowing the water to soak in for 3-5 minutes, mist the jars a second time and wait a couple more minutes. The paint begins to soften and it easily mixes into a creamy texture when dipping a paintbrush in it. I actually had to wait about 10 minutes and I used a toothpick to mix the paint. The Twinkling H2Os can be used for painting freehand, creating color washes, to color inside the lines of a drawing or rubber stamped image, or to apply to a rubber stamp before stamping with it.

Pico Embellisher in 
irRESISTible Neon colors.
For my project, I was initially going to paint an 8"x10" canvas. I painted an abstract background and then planned to use a large 8 1/2" x 11" Crazy Lace stamp by Kari McKnight-Holbrook (see Blue Twig Studio large stamps) with black acrylic paint to create an overall design on the abstract background. Unfortunately, my black paint didn't stay wet enough by the time I got the whole stamp coated and did not print well on my canvas. Therefore, I scrapped this project. I'll try to salvage it for some other project in the future.

In interest of time, I chose to create several tags that can be used as gift tags, bookmarks, labels, luggage tags, and so on. My daughter joined me and made tags, as well. Following are the results. Besides brushes, a palette knife, and a freezer paper palette, I used Derwent watercolor pencils, black Sakura micron pens, and Pico Embellishers to accent the tags.

Lydia Tag, 2 3/4" x 5 1/5", Twinkling H2Os and Pico Embellisher on watercolor paper.
I started with the plum crazy color to create a "sea" background. Then pulled the paint to the 'sky' area with more water to make it lighter. Using mango mamba, I created sun rays peeking through a stormy sky, and added pearl red to the 'sea' to create more depth and waves.  I had planned to stamp dolphins in the 'sea'. However, the sea and sky didn't come out as they appeared in my head.After lifting some of the paint by adding more water, I used blue zircon to paint Lydia and outlined it with the mustard green (which appears more like an antique gold). I highlighted Lydia with a pink neon Pico Embellisher and edged the tag with pearl red. A couple hearts with a neon green Pico Embellisher in the corners, along with blue and multicolored yarn for hanging completed the tag. I am pleased with the results, as I thought this tag was a lost cause! (Painted by my daughter.)
Peacock Feather Tag, 2 3/4" x 5 1/5", Twinkling H2Os on watercolor paper. 
Still wanting to make a sea with dolphins, I used the blue zircon for my 'sea' and painted the bottom half of the tag. I added sweet alfalfa for depth and waves.  Now to create a sunset. I decided to practice the sunset on a different card (see dolphin card below). Since my sunset came out so nice, I just used that card instead of this one. Now what do I do with this card?  The paint was dry, however, I found by adding water to the card, I was able to pull the blue zircon paint up to the top of the card, creating a blueish background with sweet alfalfa highlights. The color made me think of a peacock feather, since the blue zircon appears more teal than blue. Using shades of mango mamba, rose gold, persimmon, sweet alfalfa, and plum crazy, I stenciled a peacock feather onto the background. A small brush helped get into the narrow openings in this stencil without any bleeding under the stencil. (Painted by my daughter.)
Dolphin Tag, 2 3/4" x 5 1/5". Twinkling H2Os on watercolor paper. Using mango mamba, rose gold, and black cherry, I freehand painted a sunset.  I used freezer paper as a palette for mixing the paints for the sunset. I was pleasantly surprised when I found I could reactive the paint on the freezer paper up to 30 minutes after it had dried. I did not test how long the paint could sit and still be reactivated. I added the blue zircon for the sea, with highlights of sweet alfalfa. Painting plum crazy on a dolphin stamp, I was able to stamp two dolphins leaping out of the sea. This is my daughter's favorite tag. (Painted by my daughter.) 
Music Tag, 2 3/4" x 5 1/5", Twinkling H2Os and black Sakura micron pen on watercolor paper.  
I created an abstract background by brushing swirls of colors onto the tag. I used plum crazy, blue zircon, sweet alfalfa, and persimmon paints.Some of the paints I left opaque and others I thinned with water for more transparency (can't see this well in photo).  I sprinkled salt on the wet paint. However, once dry, the salt didn't come off easily, so some was left in place. The salt created some texture in the plum crazy and persimmon colors, but not as much as I had hoped for.  I used a 0.02 black Sakura micron pen to draw in music staffs and notes, as well as a saying by Oliver Wendell Holmes, "Most of us go to the grave with our music still inside us.". I found this in the book Creative is a Verb by Patti Digh, which I am reading for book club for April, May and June (see my review for chapters 1-3 here). This saying really struck a chord with me, so I had to put it on a tag. (Painted by Lynnita.)
Blooming Tag, 2 3/4" x 5 1/5", Twinkling H2Os and Pico Embellisher on watercolor paper. 
I wanted to see how well the Twinkling H2Os did with a stencil, so I painted persimmon, rose gold, black cherry and mango mamba through a pod stencil.  Unlike the peacock feather where I used a small brush to apply paint, I used a stencil brush this time. In the smallest pod at the bottom, the mango mamba mixed with rose gold paint was too thin and bled under the stencil. I used a blue Pico Embellisher to add the saying, "Life is an empty square unless one fills it up with matter!" by Robin Antar. This was another saying in the book, Creative is a Verb. (Painted by Lynnita.)
Pondering Tag, 2 3/4" x 5 1/5", Twinkling H2Os, Sakura micron pen, and Derwent watercolor pencils on watercolor paper. I freehand painted the face first with pearl red, using blue zircon for the eyes and poppy for the lips. Her hair is cedar wood with autumn butternut highlights, while her top is rose gold with salt for texture. Using a flexible rubber stamp, I painted sweet alfalfa and blue zircon to create a background. The sweet alfalfa worked fairly well, but the blue zircon just bled everywhere. Once it was dry, I stamped over the blue zircon area with another stamp using the sweet alfalfa paint. I used Derwent watercolor pencils to add shading to the face and a 0.005 black Sakura micron pen to add the details. (Painted by Lynnita.)
Luggage Tag, 2 3/4" x 5 1/5", Twinkling H2Os on fabric. Using pieces of Tim Holtz's Electric Elements fabrics leftover from the Nov 2014 Fabric club kit reviewed  Dec 1, 2014,I cut small pieces of the fabric and enhanced the print with the Twinkling H2O paints in several of the colors. Once the paint dried, I heat set it.  I stitched a collage of the fabric for the front of the luggage tag. I finished the edge with a piece of fuzzy, multicolor, eyelash yarn. The hand of the fabric stayed soft for the luggage tag front. (Painted by Lynnita.)
Luggage Tag back. I scribbled with several colors of the Twinkling H2Os on the back of the luggage tag just to test the hand of the fabric. I used a substantial amount of the mango mamba in the center, but smaller amounts of several other colors. Once it was dry, I heat set the paint. Where I used the larger amount of the mango mamba, the fabric was stiff, but in the other areas, the fabric still has a soft hand. The twinkling H2Os work well on fabric, but use a small amount to keep a soft hand. I didn't realize I was out of the clear vinyl to create a pocket on the back of the luggage tag for the address. So this will be added later. (Painted by Lynnita.)

Product Review:
I thoroughly enjoyed working with the paints - they are bright, luminescent and easy to use. I was able to reactivate the paints that dried on the freezer paper palette even after 30 minutes. This was awesome to find out! This ability to reactivate allowed my daughter to fix mistakes in a couple of her tags that she thought were lost causes. This also allows mixing the paints to create new colors, knowing that I won't waste paint from it drying out too fast.

The paints work well with both stencils and stamps, although you want to use stamps that are deeply etched, have thick, wide lines, bold graphics, and/or large surface areas. Avoid stamps with shallow tiny detail lines. These do not work very well. When using stencils, be sure the paints are not extremely wet, so they do not bleed under the stencil. Also a small brush can be used to paint in small stencil openings.

I have one negative comment. It was stated that the paint needs to be dry before closing the jars. Even in the 'dry' Arizona heat, the paints were still wet after 2 1/2 hours. I closed them, anyway, as I was ready to sleep by 1:00 am. When I checked them the next day, all the paints were still wet, paint had gotten on the lids making it difficult to open a couple of them, and two of them had actually leaked. So I left them open again.It still took another 2-3 hours before they were fully dry and I could close them. This will create a challenge for me to use them, as I do not have a dedicated work space at the moment and cannot leave opened jars of paint out where grandchildren could get a hold of them.

I hope you enjoyed this review and will consider using these wonderful, sparkling watercolors! They are worth buying, even if you have many other paints!

Keep creating!

Monday, May 4, 2015

April Book Club - Creative is a Verb by Patti Digh

April's book for the monthly Blue Twig Studio book club is Creative is a Verb by Patti Digh. For this month, we read the first three chapters of the book. We'll be continuing this book for May and June as well. We are dividing the book into sections, so we have time to do some of the exercises in the book, as well.

Creative is a Verb by Patti Digh, front cover
Creative is a Verb, back cover

Patti Digh is an award-winning author of several business books, as well as the best sellers: Life is a Verb and Four Word Self Help,  She is also the author of the award-winning blog  She is funny, smart, and warm.

The back cover of the books reads:
    " Yearning to reclaim a creative spirit in your fantastic, unique life? . . . To live your whole
     life as art, not just the bits you draw on a canvas or embroider or sing?  Join Patti Digh in  
     a new kind of book that leads you by both heart and head to acknowledge, reinforce, and
     use your own creative spirit by teaching six creative commitments - Put Down Your Clever,
     Turn Around and  Look, Show Up Like Magic, Please Lick the Art, Stop Trying So Hard,
     and Ignore All Critics. Whether you're apt to say, "I don't have a creative bone in my body
     and really wish I were more creative," "I'm just a dabbler but would love to be a real artist
     or craftperson, " or "I'm an artist and would love to be known and respected," Creative is a
     Verb is for you. "

This month we read Part One: Art Fear, which includes the first three chapters of the book. The first chapter discussed how to Reclaim the Spark  Fear itself is a gift and not a burden, since it tells us important things. So to embrace fear and listen to what it tells us. Fear is a part of us, just like our shadow. When we know what we fear, we know what we most care about. So love fear; don't fear it. Claude Bristol said, "To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong." Think about children - the first time they discover something, it's like a miracle; it's extraordinary. Therefore, we need to reclaim the extraordinary in the everyday.

In the second chapter, Digh tells us to Get Messy. She says to use the book gather unlined index cards,  a pair of scissors, a glue stick, a timer, some magazines to cut up, a rubber band, and a box of crayons. Keep it simple - use restriction as a friend and artfulness emerges from simplicity. This book will be about nurturing our creativity, since it is NOT a technique - it will be about turning every day into a joy and color and sound expedition - it's about waking up to the beauty around us - discovering the art that is my life - artfulness that only I can create; that is uniquely, incredibly mine. Every single moment of our life is an opportunity for creativity - even the darkest moments.

The third chapter tells us how to embrace the six creativity killers: (1) I work full time. (2) I don't have a good space in which to work. (3) I don't have the right materials. (4) I have no ideas. (5) I don't have any skill. And (6) They won't like it. Which one's apply to me?  My two biggest killers are (2) I don't have a good space and (6) they won't like it!  Instead of these, do I want my life to be a rambunctious story of uniqueness, imperfect beauty and abundance?  I can either own my circumstances and be creative in them or I can throw up my hands and give up! I have a choice!!  I may not be able to change my circumstances, but I CAN change how I am in them! I can open space for my own discoveries of how I see the world.

In the next six chapters (two months), Digh gives us two exercises. The first is Give Yourself 10. Using the simple supplies in "Get Messy," spend 10 minutes after reading each story either doing what's suggested or creating my own 10 minute exercise. Use my brain - IT HAS THINGS TO SAY AND DRAW!  The second exercise is Give Yourself 37. What if we only had 37 days to live? A life can be changed in 37 days. Change is that terrible, scary and fantastic place between insight and action. It can be hard, so note on the index cards what keeps me out of intention as well as my successes. What are my patterns?

When I finished Part One, I felt scared, excited and anxious! The 10 minute exercises I think will be doable, but 37 days?! That one scares me!! But I have to try! The last quote in Part One really speaks to me - I don't want this quote to apply to my life!!

     "Most of us go to our grave with our music still inside us." - Oliver Wendell Holmes.

I want my music to be sung in the world - to be shouted from the mountain tops - to be seen!! So as scary as this books seems, I need to not only Give Myself 10, but to Give Myself 37 and to embrace my fears!! To make art my life!! To make the everyday extraordinary!! That is my goal!!

I hope you'll join us in reading this book. I think it's going to be fun, scary, and challenging! Next month we'll be reading chapters 4, 5 and 6, the first three Creative Commitments of Section Two and doing the exercises.

Keep creating!

Week 17 - Weekly Art Challenge - Painted Canvases

This week for my weekly art challenge I started a couple of canvases. I had planned to use them for April's Design Team project for Blue Twig Studio. Once they were dry, I just wasn't sure what direction to head, so decided to do something else for the review (see upcoming post, dated May 7, 2015).

For the first canvas, I drizzled several acrylic colors onto the blank canvas. Then I took a piece of plastic wrap and placed over the canvas. After smooshing (very complicated artistic technique!) the paint over the canvas, I allowed the paint to dry with the plastic wrap still laying on the canvas. This is the result after peeling the plastic wrap off the dried, painted canvas.

Textured Abstract, 8"x10" board canvas, metallic acrylics in blue, peacock, lime green, yellow, pink, wine, and purple.
I love the texture the plastic wrap creates. Surprisingly, mud isn't usually created when mixing the paints in this serendipitous manner. I plan to add more layering to this canvas to create a mixed-media painting. I'm just not sure what direction I want to take, yet.

When I peeled the plastic wrap off the above canvas, I noticed that the paint in the wrinkles of the plastic wrap was still wet. So I took a 2nd canvas and laid the plastic wrap on top of it, smoothing the wrinkles out. Again, once the paint was dry, I peeled off the plastic wrap, resulting in this canvas.

Ink Blot, 8"x10" watercolor canvas. Wet paint left on plastic warp.
This left a lot of white still on the canvas (although it looks pink in the photo), but the texture and abstractness of the paint is unique! It's almost like an ink blot. What do you see? I found a horse grazing in a field and also a dragon soaring in the sky, looking down at some interesting speck on the ground. This reminds me of looking at clouds to see what shapes they make and creating stories about them. I'm not sure what I will create with this - the horse, the dragon, or something else entirely - but I think it's a great way to start a painting.

Keep creating!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

April ATC Challenge - Architecture

This month's ATC challenge for Blue Twig Studio was architecture. This was a tough challenge for me. I really struggled with what to do for architecture. Finally, I had to just do it, as the deadline (April 30!) was quickly approaching.

I feel like I chose a couple of easy ideas, but I like how they turned out! For the first one, I created a simple landscape with a 3D house made of cardboard, so it looked as if it had siding and a slate blue stone roof. I tried to create a welcoming house with blue shutters and a warm, yellow glow showing through the windows and front door. The house has a walkway surrounded by stones and flowers. A tree is on one side of the house, and a bush on the other. The sun is shining, while birds soar in the sky.
House, 2 1/2" x 3 1/2", acrylics, gel pens, Souffle
pens, and Sharpie on watercolor paper. Front view.

House. Side view to show 3D effects. 

The 2nd ATC card is designed in a Zentangle-Inspired Art fashion, using ancient Greek architecture enhancements for the tangles. Swirls, feathers, fancy leaves, and geometric shapes were used to embellish the many columns, pillars, archways, porticoes, and other entry ways in ancient Greece.

Ancient Greek Architecture, 2 1/2" x 3 1/2", Bristol
paper, 0.005 and 0.02 black Sakura pens.

May's ATC theme is "Tea Party". Only one card is needed to join! ATC's are only 2 1/2" x 3 1/2", so they are small pieces of artwork. They can be simple or as complex as desired. Lots of fun, they are a good canvas for experimenting with that new technique you wanted to try. They can be done with paper or fabric or a combination of materials. Embellishments can be up stand or dangle off the card.  A winner is drawn at random to win all the cards! (Unless more than 20 cards are turned in, then a 2nd winner will be drawn). See Deb Prewitt's blog for more details and where to send your card.

Keep creating!